These people did the absolute most to do the least amount of work possible. They deserve an award for all of the work that they didn't do. Content has been edited for clarity.
"During the start of this whole lockdown, my nine year old son would have worksheets emailed to him by his teacher to complete at home. One day, I left him at the family laptop to work on his math homework while I made some sinner with my three year old daughter. I walked into the living room with his dinner in hand, only to find him asking our Alexa device all of his math questions. You would think that this was the smartest solution, but my kid was doing this in the least efficient way possible. My son memorized the equation he needed to ask, walked over to Alexa, asked her the question, walked back to the laptop, walked back to Alexa to ask her again because he forgot the last two digits, walked back to the laptop, entered the answer, and then walked back to Alexa one more time to check. He had to keep walking backwards and forwards because he knew it was cheating. He would turned the volume down so I wouldn't hear from the next room.
So while he thought he was being clever, he was actually taking more time to figure the answer out using the Alexa than it would have taken to do it himself! Plus, of course there's the fact he was working on a laptop that has a calculator, and a virtual assistant that does the exact same as Alexa. He knows how to use both the calculator and the assistant, but he still chose to cheat in the least efficient way possible. It got a huge laugh out of me."
"Back when I was a teenager, I started working at this local grocery store to make some extra cash. I was quickly hired in the combination bakery and deli department. Every morning, one person would make the salads, two people would brew the fresh gallon of sweet tea, and two people would create and prepare the deli counter ready-to-go meals. One week, we had a seriously bad flu case hit our store, and were were super short on staff. I grabbed a grocery cart and started brewing my tea. While that was good and brewing, I made the salads. Instead of taking each gallon of tea to be shelved on the other side of the store one gallon at a time, I would place all of them in a grocery cart, continuing to brew the tea and stack it until the cart was full. Forget walking back and forth, this was so much better!
Usually by the time it was full, I was finished with all of my morning prep, and I was able to help the cook make breakfast and prepare for lunch. The manager saw this and turned it into my full job in the morning. Unfortunately for my co-workers, most were then 'let go' because I made their positions unnecessary. I only knew of one other person who was lucky enough to be moved to another job in the store. I ended up leaving shortly after due to the backlash I got from my coworkers. I had no idea that my new method of working would be so disastrous for the rest of the crew! Now I sort of wish I had been less inventive!"
I have two stories all about this topic. The first one was the time that my company partnered with a jail system. This place had thousands of incoming inmates per month. Most of these inmates were only behind bars for a matter of hours or a couple of days. The jail then asked my team for help with compiling all of the data on monthly arrestees, mainly their demographic info. I told my boss that this job would take a few days, and I was happy to take it on as long as I could telecommute for that time. He agreed to everything. As soon as I got home, I made a pivot table in Excel for this data, and the entire thing would be completed in a matter of minutes! I got so much extra vacation time as a result of this taking barely any work to actually do!
The next story involved a friend of mine, and we’ll call him Jeff. Jeff was an engineer in a small town for the power and water company there. Jeff’s only job was to walk a dirt path to the water reservoir, read the dials, and document whatever readings he found. He made $100k a year to walk the mile in and the mile out every day, minus the weekends. He eventually bought a second home in town. When I asked him why, he directly showed me. From the kitchen window in the house, you could see the reservoir gauges. He set up some electric telescope connected to a laptop that gave a live feed of all of the readings, which he was able to access from his home. He would wake up every morning, document the readings, and his work day was completely done. He would leave town and still be able to do his job from that laptop! That was the most genius way to hack a job I had ever heard!"
"So there we were in chemistry class, having to hold a thermometer in water for some class experiment. It was probably only a twenty minute experiment, but your arms would get tired after a couple of minutes. You couldn't let the thermometer touch the bottom of the pan, or it wouldn't get an accurate reading. So instead of sucking it up and just holding the thermometer, my lab partner built a contraption out of lab books and paperclips to somehow hold the thermometer in the water without it touching the bottom. We had to hold a thermometer in water in chemistry class. It probably was only 20 minute experiment but your arms get tired after a couple minutes and you can’t let the thermometer touch the bottom of the pan or it won’t get an accurate reading. So instead of sucking it up and just holding the thermometer, my lab partner built a contraption out of lab books and paperclips to somehow hold the thermometer in the water without it touching the bottom. It was the stupidest looking thing you would ever see in a lab class. Our teacher was walking around to examine everyone's progress, and he told us, 'If it looks stupid, sounds stupid, but it works, then it isn’t stupid.'
My lab partner and I joked that he wasn’t talking about the contraption, but the intellect of my lab partner instead. Keep in mind, I went to a very impoverished school. We only have like ten textbooks to share amongst a forty person class, and most of those textbooks were from the 1980s originally. No way was my county going to splurge and purchase some sort of fancy equipment to use in chemistry class, when they could just have the students build up some arm muscles and exercise instead."
"Years ago, while I was a full time student, I got a job stocking shelves for this local hardware company. My male coworkers would carry these massively heavy boxes, place them on the floor, and bend over each time to pick up each item to stock on the shelves. I was a very petite woman, and carrying all of those boxes all day was killing me physically. But one day, I suddenly had the perfect idea. I put my box on an old desk chair and simply rolled it around. There was no more carry heavy boxes and no more bending over! The funniest thing was that, instead of doing the same thing that I was, most of my male coworkers called me lazy and just kept carrying all of those heavy boxes, just to prove how strong they were! Nowadays, the company has special rolling carts that can get this job done properly. My guess is that these dudes still had this ancient mentality of not wanting to be perceived as 'weak' or something. My grandpa was unloading boats almost entirely with his muscles back in the day. Now they have equipment and a lot more security rules, which he scoffs at for the very same reason. Why do men have to be so stubborn like this?!"
"I worked in this local adult education center. One of my main tasks was to make calculations about how many people enlisted for a course, how many of them got discounts (based on unemployment or other groups), how many men or women were attending, and all sorts of personal information. That was needed to calculate upcoming courses fees and future classroom planning. That was my only work there, and I absolutely hated it. This was in early nineties, so PCs were a thing in our offices, but I had no idea how to write a program or use a database to organize all of this information. Lucky as I am, our center had an interesting policy: when you want to educate yourself, you can attend that class for free. And when the class happened during the work time, then you could still attend, as long as my supervisor was alright with it. She definitely was.
So I spent three months 'studying' database structures, scripting, and coding. I told my tutor what I wanted to do, and he helped me to write a script that grabbed all of the necessary information from the courses database. He helped me to copy that into another database, and then I went crazy and wrote a very elaborate code structure. At the end of this learning process, I was able to complete an entire six hour shift's worth of work into fifteen minutes. Before that, it took an hour to gather all of the necessary information on how many unemployed single parents would we need to break even with the cost of the course. I was able to transform into a data wizard. Now you want statistics how many single parent disabled foreign women at the age of 80-90 are needed for the next two years to keep the ornithology course running? Sure, no problem.
After my class, I would start the PC up in the morning, grab all of the data I would need, run the script I created, and complete all of my work within fifteen minutes. Then I would read a book that I brought from home for the rest of the day! At the end of the day, I gave my supervisor several dozen pieces of paper, all full of statistics and predictions. I would mention something about how much work that turned out to be, and I just went home! My supervisor was super happy with me because I got so much more done in the day, and it was super effective. Little did she know what really went on behind the scenes! I never told her what was really going on for as long as I was at that job!"
"Way back in high school, a lot of kids used to walk through this park to get either back to home or to school. A portion of the path went into the woods because it was just quicker than walking the actual trail. At one point in the walk through the woods, you had to go up this small but tedious hill. It was nothing major, but it took like ten seconds of hard work to go up it. You couldn’t go around it, because one side was a small cliff to the creek below, and the other side had some pretty dense trees. One summer, a bunch of us got together and decided to just dig through that hill to make it flat. It took like fourteen of us teens a solid three days to dig through the entire hill and actually flatten it. It was a hard three days but it was definitely worth it. We saved ten second of hill climbing every morning and afternoon, for over one hundred and fifty days of the year. And it wasn’t just us, but hundreds of other kids who took the same pathway every day. Sometimes you need to put in a lot of work so your future selves can enjoy the easy way out.
My summers were usually spent with my friends sitting around in parks, beaches, or homes, just chilling and bored out of our minds. We all banded together to work on this project during a summer that we really enjoyed, and we created something that ended up lasting for quite a long time. Some people might judge us for what we were working on, but who cares? We made some lasting memories and easier commutes for lots of kids! We made the whole thing look pretty dope, and we were sure to not just leave a pile of dirt next to the previous location of the hill. I went back to this place about fifteen years after this endeavor, and the trail was still flat and in the same condition that I left it in. All in all, I have wasted way more time doing less productive things in life! It's sort of my legacy in this small town."
"I'll be honest, I was a total 'D' student throughout most of my high school experience. But it wasn't because I was struggling academically, it was sort of the opposite! I never had any intention of going to college, so there was never really any incentive for me to be outstanding in high school. I absorb information pretty well, and I do actually pay attention while the lessons are going on. Using both of those abilities, I would pass and usually ace almost every test I took in high school! But the thing was that I would do almost no homework that was assigned to me. At the end of the semester, I would look through the grade book to see what classes I was failing and what homework assignments I needed to complete in order to pass. I would cram like crazy for about two weeks to complete my homework assignments before grades were due, and I ended up passing most of my classes. I would also budget my academic credits. At my high school, you needed 28.5 class credits to actually graduate. Each semester of a class was worth half of a credit. Long story short, while my classmates were graduating with 30-38 credits, I got to graduate with exactly 28.5 credits. My classmates were doing way more work than I ever needed to really do! C's really do get degrees, and D's still get diplomas! I am living proof of this."
"Back when I was in college, I had a job at a local Fazoli's, which is this Italian fast food restaurant known for its greasy and delicious breadsticks. The breadsticks would arrive to our restaurant frozen and needed some time to thaw. So we would take this giant 3x4 foot aluminum baking sheet, spread the bread out over a single layer with no open spaces, and cover all of them with a plastic bag. We would then leave this baking sheet sitting in the walk-in refrigerator overnight. The next day, you would have to get a pair of tongs and move each stick onto a new tray, turning them over each time. Then you would have to cover the new tray with a bag and sit it on a rack for a few hours before you could brush on the garlic butter sauce. This was a tedious enough process that you would usually be ready to brush the butter on the first tray as soon as you turned the last tray. I was given this task for the first time one morning and just did not want to deal with it. I realized that if I put the second tray upside down on top of the first one, then turned it over and took the first tray out, I got exactly the same results. I blew the boss's mind when I did the three hour job in about fifteen minutes. I was given a $0.05/hour raise for my creativity and brilliance.
To be fair, this whole thing took place in 2000 or 2001. The minimum wage was $4.25/hour, so going up five cents (a standard increment in the company, which also let you complete training modules for the same increment. So it actually kind of worth it to train more and get an even bigger raise down the line.
The bonus five cents was definitely better than suggesting improvements and being told either no or not to tell anyone else about them. I could have also had my idea stolen, and someone else would have taken credit for it, so at least I got to implement it on my own terms! The managers had all been trained at an older location by the franchisee and his General Manager, who were very much set in their ways. I have no idea how long the store I worked at had been doing things the old and slow way before I tried this out. My store was fully staffed with hard workers who were ready to tackle anything. But they weren't necessarily the right guys for this critical thinking exercise! But those breadsticks were beyond fantastic. Even after a long day of work, where I was nauseated by the very thought of eating literally anything else in that store, I could still tear into a bag of those soft, greasy breadsticks."
"My boss put my name in for leading a project group shortly after I joined the company. I had no experience whatsoever when it came to project managing, yet he still demanded that I lead the group of twelve people. The people in this group were all way smarter than me. They all had heavy technology background, and what they could do on a computer was like wizardry to me. They had also all spent way more time at this company than I had! I am a business guy who is too dumb to balance sheets, which is why I typically work in HR (and I also happen to enjoy this field).
So we started the first meeting. I asked for everyone’s plan, experience, and ideas for the project. I gathered the different pros and cons, cross checked them with the budget we had, put on a time frame with milestones to reach for around six months, and I scheduled some valuable people to consult with at different steps. Why did I do that? Because I like organizing stuff, keeping everyone on the same page, and delegating various tasks. I actually got promoted because of the success of this project!
I asked my boss why he put me in for this leadership position, since I had never done anything like that. He said it was because I complained in the first week that most of the work had way too wonky of a structure, with no clear guidelines, and this could be improved heavily if we just put some time into it. And because I hated asking a question only to never get a clear answer, I was clearly the best person to make other people figure out the answers. In the long run, this would make my team way more efficient and keep everyone on the same page. All of this was because of how much I hated disorganized work and refused to put up with it anymore!"
"I worked for the state government doing data entry of a sort. We got scans of forms that people had filled out, and we had to go through and make sure that the numbers that the computer had pulled from the scan matched what was written, since it wasn't always entirely accurate. So the software we used showed us all the scanned documents, and it overlaid fields right next to any point where the scanner found numbers, with the number the machine determined was written already in the field. The job was essentially looking at each field and making sure the number right next to it was the same. If it wasn't, then fix it. We didn't mess with any of the text, it was just the numbers. Now these scans included ALL of the paperwork submitted by each person, including the dozen pages with no data whatsoever. It was just the beginning of the document that the person read before they filled out the actual forms and stuff. There was also a section just after the middle that consisted of several more pages with information for the person. My trainer showed me how to do all this. He accepted a new document from the queue and pressed the down arrow key to scroll through the beginning section until he got to the first field. He made sure the numbers matched and repeated this process for several minutes, before excusing himself and telling me I could come grab him if I had any questions. I sat down at the computer and took a look around the room. Literally on every screen I could see from where I was sitting, people were actively scrolling. Some people were using the mouse wheel, but most used the down arrow.
I accepted a new document from the queue, and I pushed the tab button. The program instantly brought me to the first field a dozen pages down. I smirked to myself, compared the field to the written text, and repeated that process instead. I did go back and scroll through that first document to ensure I hadn't missed anything due to a goof in the software or anything like that. Near the end of my second day, I was called into my boss's office and asked what I had been doing for the past two days. It turns out, as of day two, I was churning through five or six times the amount of documents a day compared to people who had been working there for years. My boss assumed I was just clicking through new documents without doing any work, and he was very much acting like he had caught me red-handed.
I asked if they reviewed the documents I finished to ensure that I had done the work. He replied that they hadn't, but it was obviously impossible to go through that many pages in the time it took me to do it. I told him that I knew for a fact that if he went through any of my work, he would see everything was fine. He pulled one of my finished documents at random and spent several minutes scrolling through it, shaking his head to himself, staring daggers at the screen. He admitted that this document was fine, but it would take hours for his assistant manager to review all my work. I asked him, 'Can I show you something? Could you please pull up another random document of mine?'
He rolled his eyes, but he did it. I stood up from my chair, came around the desk, and I hit the 'tab' button. He was looking at the screen like it was witchcraft. I showed him that the field matched, and I tabbed my way through the rest of the fields, confirming the rest of the numbers as I did. I finished reviewing the whole document with him in less than a minute. He asked me if my trainer showed me that. I replied that he hadn't, but it was a universal keyboard shortcut that I had been using since the early nineties. This ordeal happened in 2013, by the way. He just looked at me for a bit, and then said he had to talk to his assistant manager about the whole thing, before asking me to go back to work. Later on, I'm heading out at the end of the day when my boss asks me to come over to his office. He fires me for, 'Not taking the job seriously,' and, 'Potentially causing delays to taxpayers due to inaccuracies.' I actually laughed at him after he got done with his spiel. And that's the story of how I managed to flummox several state employees with a highly controversial use of the tab button. It still blows my mind!"